The Ministry of Communications, on August 7th, 2017, notified new rules for the suspension of telecom services in case of public emergency or public safety, and consequently, the suspension of Internet services in India. These rules known as the “Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017” were issued under section 7 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885.
The ongoing Internet shutdown in Darjeeling, West Bengal completes 3 months today. This day, three months earlier, mobile Internet was shutdown in the city due to the ongoing agitation for a separate Gorkhaland. Two days later, on 20thJune, the orders were extended to the broadband services as well, effectively shutting down the entire Internet. Since then, the Internet ban has been extended several times by the district administration, without any hope of it being restored in the near future.
SFLC.in participated in the Internet Freedom Festival (IFF) which was held between 6th and 10th of March, 2017 in the beautiful city of Valencia in Spain. IFF is a community organized unconference that brings together digital rights defenders – journalists, activists, technologists, policy advocates, digital safety trainers, and designers – to create an inclusive and diverse space for discussions and collaborations.
In the last few years, India has witnessed a constant increase in the instances of Internet shutdowns in the country. These incidents point to the issuance of orders mostly by State Governments to block mobile and/or fixed line Internet services in an attempt to curb unrest or violence or as a preventive measure in certain cases. SFLC.in has been keeping a track of such instances in India and has maintained a dynamic tracker as well. In this regard, we wrote to Dr.
Over the past few years, the number of instances in which Internet access was blocked for entire regions by the Indian Government has been steadily climbing. These “Internet shutdowns” are usually instituted as responses to conflict situations i.e. to prevent rumor-driven escalations of civil unrest, but they are also instituted at times for reasons far more trivial, such as to prevent cheating during examinations.
The United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution on 1st July, 2016, condemning network disruptions and measures resorted by states to curb online access and/or dissemination of information. Moreover, this resolution affirmed that rights in the online sphere, especially the right to freedom of expression requires the same standard of protection as in the offline world.